Sunday, February 23, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "Find Strength in the LORD Your God"

“Find Strength in the LORD Your God”
A Heart for the Heart of God: The Message of 1 Samuel
February 23, 2014 :: 1 Samuel 29:1-30:31

This book is coming to a head. We’re almost to the dramatic ending of the whole thing–1 Samuel.

The last two sermons in 1 Samuel have both had cliffhanger endings. The last sermon featured King Saul who was out of his mind scared of the impending battle with the Philistines. And he turned to a medium, to witchcraft, to dark forces to try to scrabble up some winning battle plan.  He got more than he bargained for because, apparently, Samuel showed up and told him that the very next day he would die and his nation would lose the battle.

And with that dark foreshadowing, the chapter ended with Saul slipping out into the night.  Cliffhanger. We will have to wait to see what happens next to Saul.

Two sermons ago, we had a cliffhanger involving the anointed but not yet king David.

David has been playing a dangerous game. He got tired of being chased by Saul and decided to hide among the Philistines. He became the head of a mercenary army ostensibly working for Achish the biggest Philistine king.

But he’s actually been a double agent. David has not been raiding the Hebrew settlements but Canaanite ones. He’s just been very careful to cover his tracks.

And Achish has been successfully fooled into thinking that David is loyal.

Too successfully!  Because when we last left off, Achish has asked David to be his personal bodyguard and to fight right alongside him as the Philistines directly go up against King Saul and the Israelites!

Do you see the quandary that David is in?

Here’s his dilemma: If he fights for Achish now, he will be raising his hands against the LORD’s anointed which he has made clear that he will not do.

But if he shows his colors now, he is deep in Philistine territory and in deep deep trouble with Achish.

It seemed like David was in a lose-lose situation at the cliffhanger ending of chapter 28:3.

So, it’s all coming to a head.  And that’s where we start off today.

I’m going to call today’s message “Find Strength in the LORD Your God.”

Those words come straight out of what David does in chapter 30, verse 6.  We’ll see that in a few minutes. And we’ll see how we are to do it today. “Find Strength in the LORD Your God.”

And I’ve got 3 reasons today to find strength in the LORD Your God.  So, if you’re taking notes, there will be 3 points.

Chapter 29, verse 1.

The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel. As the Philistine rulers marched with their units of hundreds and thousands, David and his men were marching at the rear with Achish.”

And they are probably wondering, “How are we ever going to get out of this one?” v.3

“The commanders of the Philistines asked, ‘What about these Hebrews?’ [Where’d they come from?] Achish replied, ‘Is this not David, who was an officer of Saul king of Israel? He has already been with me for over a year, and from the day he left Saul until now, I have found no fault in him.’ [I’ve turned him. He’s my agent. He’s my guy now!]

But the Philistine commanders were angry with him and said, ‘Send the man back, that he may return to the place you assigned him. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting. How better could he regain his master's favor than by taking the heads of our own men? [We know that he knows about taking heads.] Isn't this the David they sang about in their dances: ‘'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands'?’”

I don’t think so. We don’t want him! V.6

“So Achish called David and said to him, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until now, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don't approve of you.  Turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers.’”

I can just imagine the look on David’s face.

“What, huh? Oh. Hey!”

“‘But what have I done?’ asked David. ‘What have you found against your servant from the day I came to you until now? Why can't I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?’ [Inside, he’s going “O boy! O, yes!” And winking at his guys.]

Achish answered, ‘I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes as an angel of God; nevertheless, the Philistine commanders have said, 'He must not go up with us into battle.'  Now get up early, along with your master's servants who have come with you, and leave in the morning as soon as it is light.’ So David and his men got up early in the morning to go back to the land of the Philistines, and the Philistines went up to Jezreel.”


Somehow David has gotten out of his dilemma.

He will not fight against Saul. He will have no hand in Saul’s downfall before the Philistines.

But David also escapes from Achish. Achish still thinks that David is his best guy!

Isn’t David clever?

Is that what we’re supposed to think?

David certainly is clever. We are supposed to chuckle at what he gets away with and how Achish is fooled.

But was this escape engineered by the wisdom of David?

I don’t think so.

I think we’re supposed to see the hand of the LORD here.

He’s working all things towards His plan and purpose. He’s keeping His promises to David. He’s working all things to David’s good.

Let’s make that point number one.

Find Strength in the LORD Your God because.


I almost entitled this message, “The Gospel for Knuckleheads.”

Because I tend to think that David has been acting like a knucklehead for the last several chapters. I don’t think that his foray into being a double agent was the wisest thing he could had picked.

And it’s not because he’s a knucklehead that God is working these things out for him.

This is not an encouragement to be a knucklehead!

But because David has (at bottom) a heart for the heart of God and because God has good plans for Him, God is working all things out to David’s good and God’s glory.

That’s Romans 8:28.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Even the evil things. Even the bad things.

Even the evil schemes of our enemies. Notice how God uses David’s own enemies to accomplish His good plans for David!

And the same is true for you and me today.

Even if we’ve been knuckleheads, God is working all things to our good and to His glory. So we can find strength in Him.

That’s no reason to be a knucklehead, but it’s good news for those of us who have been!

Now, just imagine how these guys felt after leaving Achish.  They were at the top of their emotions. What a relief! What a joy!

But now they were to hit the absolute bottom. And probably as great as they felt going into it, made it all the more worse when they got there. Chapter 30, verse 1.

“David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and all who were in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way. When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David's two wives had been captured–Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel.”

Wow. I can’t imagine how they felt.

Apparently, the Amalekites (sworn enemies of Israel since Exodus 17) had gotten wind that David and his army had gone away on a Philistine tour of duty.

Now was their chance, and they took it. They had totally decimated David’s city and taken away all of their families. David’s two wives. Everybody.

Can you imagine how they felt?

“David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.”

That hurts.

David is getting a pounding. It’s probably felt like a non-stop pounding ever since chapter 18. This is the lowest point, the last straw.

It’s important to note that this happens to someone who basically follows God.

Bad things happen to followers of God.

Don’t let anyone tell you that the Christian life is all happy happy happy all the time.

Jesus said to us that in this world we will have trouble.

We will have trouble.

The question is. Where do you turn when the trouble comes?

We saw where Saul turned. He turned to the darkness.

Where did David turn?

Where do you turn when you have a heart for the heart of God? V.6

“David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. [It’s David’s fault. He’s the leader. He should have had a better plan! “David was greatly distressed.”] But David found strength in the LORD his God.”

“But David found strength in the LORD his God.”

There it is.

Even though his life seems to have crashed to an end, David found strength in the LORD his God. Because:


Notice that phrase in verse 6, “his God.”

God is personal. It wasn’t just the LORD God. But the LORD his God.

David belongs to the LORD.

Davids knows his LORD.

And He knows that His Lord is worth trusting.

David shows once again that he has a heart for the heart of God.

In fact, this is the last story of David in 1 Samuel, and the last major thing we see him doing in 1 Samuel is taking heart, finding strength in the LORD his God.

King Saul had turned to rebellious witchcraft.

David turned to the LORD’s own high priest. V.7

“Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, ‘Bring me the ephod.’ Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the LORD, ‘Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?’ ‘Pursue them,’ he answered. ‘You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.’

David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Ravine, where some stayed behind, for two hundred men were too exhausted to cross the ravine. But David and four hundred men continued the pursuit.

They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. [This is very important. God is doing it. Without this guy they would never find them.] They gave him water to drink and food to eat–part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights.

David asked him, ‘To whom do you belong, and where do you come from?’ He said, ‘I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. We raided the Negev of the Kerethites and the territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.’

[Notice the restraint as David does not kill him. This guy has the intel that they need. V.15]

David asked him, ‘Can you lead me down to this raiding party?’ He answered, ‘Swear to me before God that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.’” [ok]
“He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. [Never suspecting that David and his men would ever be so close.]

David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled.

David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, ‘This is David's plunder.’”

Wow.  Our God is worth trusting in, no matter what.

Now, the Bible doesn’t promise that we will succeed in everything that we ever try. This passage is not teaching us that all of our trials will end up working out in a happy way by the end of the day.

But it is showing us once again that God is faithful to keep His promises, and that He works all things to our good if we trust Him and love Him, and that in the end (the very end) everything will work out to our good!

That’s what heaven is. It’s the enjoyment of all good things in Christ.

And we might have to wait for it, but it’s coming, for sure, no matter what.

Where are you turning in your moments of trial?

Are you turning to alcohol?  “A glass a wine makes everything okay.”

Are you turning to friends? “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

Are you turning to your own resources, your own skills and bank account and cleverness?

Are you turning to your government?

Are you turning to other religions?

Are you turning to other relationships?

Where do you turn when the bottom falls out?

When you are greatly distressed and weeping aloud until you have no strength to weep?

Find Strength in the LORD your God.

Because He alone is worth trusting, no matter what.

He proves it over and over again!

In this story, He’s gotten them out of the jam with Achish, He’s provided an Egyptian guide at just the right moment, and He’s given them victory in battle and the spoils of war. “This is David’s plunder.”

But, notice, that David doesn’t keep all of the plunder. V.21

“Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Ravine. They came out to meet David and the people with him. As David and his men approached, he greeted them.”

“Look! I’ve got your families back!” v.22

“But all the evil men and troublemakers among David's followers said, ‘Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.’

David replied, ‘No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the LORD has given us. He has protected us and handed over to us the forces that came against us. Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.’ David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this.”

But it’s more than that. He gives away more than that. V.26

“When David arrived in Ziklag, he sent some of the plunder to the elders of Judah, who were his friends, saying, ‘Here is a present for you from the plunder of the LORD's enemies.’ He sent it to those who were in Bethel, Ramoth Negev and Jattir; to those in Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa and Racal; to those in the towns of the Jerahmeelites and the Kenites; to those in Hormah, Bor Ashan, Athach and Hebron; and to those in all the other places where David and his men had roamed.”

Here’s the principle:


David’s men didn’t want to be generous, but David demanded it.

Share and share alike.

Why? V.23 again. Because of “what the LORD has given us. He has protected us and handed over to us the forces that came against us.”

If God has been generous like that to us, then we can be generous to others, too.

And not just to those who might have had a part if they hadn’t been so tired.

But to the surrounding areas. God has been so good to us, we can be good them, too.

You know, that’s still playing the dangerous game, isn’t it?

These people in verses 27-31 are the people that Achish thinks David is wiping out, but instead he’s giving them gifts.

The Messiah, the anointed one, is giving gifts to these people who will one day name him as king.

That’s interesting, isn’t it?

David, the Messiah, the anointed one, is giving gifts to those people who will one day soon rightly name David as their king.

Remind you of anybody?

Great David’s greater Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, has won a great battle Himself and gives gifts to those who belong to Him!

And God has been generous to us and give us grace upon grace, then how much more should we be generous with others?

Christians should be the most generous people on the planet.

Find strength in the LORD your God because He’s so generous!

He gave His One and Only Son.

So that whosoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

If God has loved us like that, then how generous we can be with others?!

20. Find Strength in the LORD Your God